A woman will have to travel 170 miles to have her coil removed – after waiting six months for an appointment.
Even though Amy lives in Glasgow, she will need to make a journey to Inverness for the vital procedure.
She has relied on an IUD, commonly known as a coil, as a form of contraception for nearly a decade. The long-term form of birth control is inserted into the womb and lasts between five and ten years.
But when the time came to remove and replace her current coil, Amy found it impossible to make an appointment.
The procedure wasn’t available at her GP surgery so her only option was to use the NHS-run Sandyford sexual health clinic, where appointments are booked online.
“I first tried to book an appointment on December 20,” Amy, whose surname we’ve agreed to withhold, told STV News.
“The online booking system said there were no appointments available, so I started calling the switchboard and emailing in the hope of getting something.”
After weeks of failing to secure an appointment, Amy asked her GP for help and was referred to Sandyford, only to be told she needed to use the online system.
“It was important to me to ensure I had contraception that worked for me,” she said.
“I was being proactive and organised but couldn’t get any help and it was so frustrating. Why wasn’t I able to be provided with a service I needed? It’s worrying to think I’m not the only one in this situation.”
Knowing that her current coil was no longer effective, she used a relative’s post code on the Sandyford website and was given a number to call a sexual health clinic in the Highlands.
She received a call back the same day – the first time she was able to speak with a medic about the issue – and made an appointment.
“It was a relief to finally speak to a clinical member of staff who could help me,” Amy said.
“It’s caused a lot of anxiety for me not being able to get an appointment. I feel really lucky that I’m able to travel and stay with family in Inverness, as it’s not the most pleasant procedure and I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving back to Glasgow.
“But not everyone has that option.”
Health officials in Glasgow and the Highlands both said they were facing a “high demand” for sexual health services.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde apologised to patients such as Amy who have struggled to make appointments.
It said: “Current demand for this service is very high. Sexual health services are still in the process of recovery following Covid-19 and we remain restricted in the number of face-to-face appointments we can offer, however we are working hard to scale back up to meet demand.
“Appointments are released regularly to book online, and we’re currently offering more appointments for coils than pre-pandemic.
“Bookings for coil appointments are available at Sandyford Central, Sandyford Paisley, Sandyford Parkhead, Sandyford Govanhill and we are also hoping to open our service at Sandyford Woodside in the coming weeks.
“Patients should note their GP may also be able to provide this service to them and they should check with their practice for more information.”
NHS Highland said it had seen an increase in the number of women using the online booking system.
A spokeswoman said: “There is an extremely high demand for sexual health services. This is something that is being seen nationally across Scotland with all services working hard to scale back up in order to meet this demand.
“We recognise patients are keen to get an appointment but, while each case is looked at on an individual basis, it is not routine for us to take patients from other board areas.”